The N.C. General Assembly must change current election law to uphold the democratic values to which it is sworn to protect.
Of the 170 state legislators currently serving in the General Assembly, 31 were originally appointed by party leaders, not elected by their constituencies.
The motto on our state seal — Esse Quam Videri (to be rather than to seem) — aptly captures the nature of this practice; it is an undemocratic process that contradicts the representative duty of the General Assembly.
North Carolina is one of only 11 states that does not hold a special election if a General Assembly seat becomes vacant.
Rather, a small committee of party leaders recommends a replacement to the governor, who has the power to confirm the appointment.
Our representatives should always be elected by the citizens they represent. The resignation or death of a member during a term is no excuse for party bosses to hand-pick a legislator. This only leads to a system rife with possibility for cronyism and backroom deals.
But Rep. Verla Insko, D-Orange, disagrees. She has “not seen any downside to the current process” and pointed to the drawback of “fairly expensive” special elections. According to Insko, the people of North Carolina “have to weigh (the benefits of a democratic process) against the expense and whether the outcome would be very different.”
But the values of an open democratic process should never be compromised by the purported cost of such.
This issue is a no-brainer; special elections are always more democratic than appointments.
The General Assembly represents the citizens of North Carolina. The citizens of North Carolina should always decide who their representatives are. And it doesn’t matter that appointees must run for reelection at their terms’ end.
Our government is elected by the people, for the people; our General Assembly is no exception.